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The view from the UK
Some 20 years ago, it was suggested to the relatively newly established Royal College that it might be advisable to develop a regular report on the health of children of Great Britain. At the time, a Working party was set up, chaired by Aidan Macfarlane, and a wide membership of stakeholders was gathered together and a Delphi carried out as to which topics should be covered. The driving principles of that report were stated as giving added value to existing reports and should emphasise evidence-based interventions which might improve child health outcomes. A draft was produced but the Council rejected it on the basis that it was not a priority or core business for the new College at the time and there were insufficient resources to support its appropriate development (RCPCH Council Minutes and personal correspondence Blair 1999).
However, this current report is very well produced and clearly lays out the state of child health in the four countries of the UK highlighting a life course approach with key conditions and services emphasised. The report has come at an opportune time with the spotlight clearly on children from a number of key reports including those of the Chief Medical Officers.1 Some of the drivers have included the lack of progress the UK is making compared with other countries, particularly in mortality statistics, and the pernicious effects of social inequalities on children’s lives and well-being. If we were to select a number of themes which run through the report, they are as follows:
Better integrated data collection is required
Data are missing where it matters and data help to make matters visible. This includes recommendations to: have a UK-wide system for the analysis and interpretation of child mortality data which can be used for accurate international comparison, collect regular mental health survey data, improve the recording of smoking …
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